As Vinnie Barbarino, the scrofulous “sweathog” on Welcome Back, Kotter, 22-year-old John Travolta is emerging as The Fonz of the future. John is suddenly overtaking Henry Winkler in the fan-mail sweepstakes at ABC. He’s warbled a pop single, Let Her In, that’s crashed the Top 40 and is bulleting higher, and he’s developing a cult that doesn’t know when to quit. “I’d taken a publicity picture wearing a shirt with mismatching buttons on the cuffs,” Travolta elaborates. “Now my agent’s niece says all her friends in junior high are wearing mismatching buttons on their shirts.” Concludes Travolta: “People should be careful about the advice they give others. I’m definitely an opinion-maker.”
As Jimmy Connors saw it, the best way to groove his game before Wimbledon was by concentrating on 22-year-old Marjorie Wallace, whose previous experience in the wide world of sports (British soccer star Georgie Best and the late racing driver Peter Revson, among others,) cost her the Miss World title in 1974. “I’ve found someone to share the things I like,” says Jimmy. “Marjorie and I don’t even have to talk to each other if we don’t feel like it.” What’s happened with his previous top seed, Chris Evert? “That’s on the rocks,” Jimmy reports. “She has gone her way, and I have gone mine, and I’m happy with the way mine has taken me.”
Now that Shirley Temple Black is returning home to become U.S. Chief of Protocol, her biggest fan turns out to be her boss at Foggy Bottom—”and it is not because of the movies. She’s done a super job,” Henry Kissinger says of Shirley’s performance as ambassador to Ghana. “She works hard, she’s effective, and she’s tough. She has really won me over.” Huh? “Seven years ago when she was appointed to the United Nations Delegation,” Kissinger now confesses, “I thought it was an outrageous political ploy.”
According to trendy psychological theory, there actually is a division between those humans more effective in the morning; they’re called “larks”—and the night people, naturally labeled “owls.” As it happens, Betty Furness says she really has found her natural habitat at dawn—filling in for defector Barbara Walters on the Today show. NBC is weighing judgment (read Nielsens). But Betty’s husband, CBS News executive producer Les Midgeley, is oblivious to her audition success. He’s not a CBS hawk but a metabolic owl. “It wouldn’t faze him a bit,” reports Furness if she became an NBC regular. “He’d just sleep right through it.”
•Women may be realistically coming of age everywhere else on the planet, but not on Waltons’ Mountain. According to executive story editor Earl Hamner Jr., who created the CBS series out of his own youth, the network actually had to censor one script. “They said All in the Family’s audience would expect it, but they didn’t think our audience would want to see it.” It was a discussion of Mary Ellen Walton’s first period.
•The crowd of Robert Culp and his wife, Sheila Sullivan, get to eyeball more than Kodachrome of the family’s summer vacation after dinner. Culp apparently has no regrets about the graphically nude layout he and Sheila did for Oui magazine last year. “But they didn’t run the really raunchy stuff,” jokes the 45-year-old I Spy star. “That we keep at home to show our friends.”
•He may never get it together again with the Beatles, but every time he’s in L.A. Ringo Starr has a reunion with Debralee Scott, who plays the love-crazed Cathy Shumway (her latest lust: a priest) on TV’s Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.